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Wayne's Word

Wayne Hurd is the word on CCTV

Check here frequently for the latest on CCTV industry developments from the unique perspective of Digimerge’s lead executive.

Open Letter regarding FLIR Acquisition of Digimerge

To all Digimerge Customers:

Thanks to your support, 2012 proved to be highly successful for Digimerge, including dramatic growth and the introduction of many exciting new products, such as our SyncroIP 2.1 MP cameras.

2013 promises be another dynamic year. If you have not already heard the exciting news, Digimerge was acquired by FLIR Systems, Inc. Most of you are probably familiar with FLIR – the world leader in thermal imaging.  FLIR is publicly traded on NASDAQ and a member of the S&P 500. Over its 35 years in business, FLIR has become the international frontrunner in the design, manufacture and marketing of thermal imaging cameras used in the most demanding security applications.

So, what does the FLIR acquisition mean for Digimerge and its customers?

  1. Digimerge will continue to operate from its head office, with the same talented staff and the same product philosophy – supported by the same outstanding customer service, sales and tech support teams
  2. Digimerge will gradually migrate to FLIR brand as new products become available;
  3. Digimerge customers will have access to FLIR’s full line of thermal security cameras for unsurpassed low light imaging and perimeter security applications.

If you need help with Digimerge products, please call the same number you see on the Contact page of our website. If you’d like to speak with your local Digimerge Sales Agent, their contact information remains the same on our Agents page, and Digimerge products will continue to be available through our network of stocking Distributors under the same model numbers.

What are the near-term changes I can expect to see?

  1. Soon, you’ll see FLIR’s thermal security cameras on the Digimerge website;
  2. A Digimerge product section will also come to the FLIR website soon;
  3. The well-recognized FLIR logo will appear in more and more of our marketing communications;
  4. New product introductions under the FLIR brand;
  5. Joint offerings at Trade Shows;
  6. An Authorized Dealer Program.

If you have any questions, please refer to the FAQs on the website or contact a Digimerge representative.

We are excited about working with the FLIR team to grow our business, enhance our product offering, and continue to offer the best solutions that are Right for Business. We look forward to working together in 2013 and beyond.

Sincerely,

Wayne Hurd, Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing
Digimerge Technologies Inc.

Wide Dynamic Range Tames Difficult Lighting Conditions

Our hottest selling camera is the DPV24D Pinnacle Vandal Dome. It produces a gorgeous picture, has outstanding night vision, plenty of settings, bells, whistles and streamers. Most importantly, it flat-out works reliably… we just got one back that got hit by a truck not once, but three times, and it still operates!! Here’s a link to see it but please don’t get any ideas from this as our Warranty and Time is Money program do not cover bad driving. Bottom line: I’d recommend the DPV24D for most security applications… but not all applications.

One feature the DPV24D lacks is True Wide Dynamic Range… it has “Electronic Wide Dynamic Range” which is really just the equivalent of Shadow Reduction. We recently recorded some dramatic footage in our warehouse showing the DPV24D versus our DPV34WL (Vandal Dome featuring True WDR powered by the Pixim Seawolf solution). Under normal conditions with consistent lighting in the room, both cameras are equally terrific. But when the overhead door in receiving rolled-up and sunlight came pouring in through an isolated area… wow! The True WDR difference clearly came into play as the DPV24D didn’t have the range to handle such contrasting lighting simultaneously. So even with Electronic WDR the resulting DPV24D picture shows a glowing bright halo in the doorway which appears like a portal to the afterlife was opened. The DPV34WL on the other hand quickly adjusted and you can see an actual person (not an angel) walking just beyond the doorway area.

We have posted these powerful videos on our Videos Page and YouTube channel.

Some security camera features offer a visible difference while others aren’t as apparent. But there’s no questioning True Wide Dynamic Range once you see it in action, it’s a lot more than just a clever marketing pitch. When spending the extra dollars for the WDR feature, make sure you’re getting True Wide Dynamic Range (a unique hardware solution) and not Electronic WDR (which is basically just Shadow Reduction technology). There’s really no comparison – True WDR is far more effective and given a high contrast lighting situation,  you stand a much better chance of catching the license plate of the vehicle that’s backing / bashing into your building.

Shedding Light on Night Vision Camera Selection

Ever wonder why the color is off from some IR cameras? Cameras, unlike the human eye, are sensitive to infrared light which is invisible to the human eye.  So, when a camera views a scene with infrared light (including sunlight or incandescent lighting commonly found in homes, show rooms, retail, etc.), it tends to alter the color to what it actually perceives.  Color alteration is particularly evident when viewing porous materials such clothing and fabrics.  For example, you may see a black chair but the camera sees it as greenish/bluish or purplish. Green grass may appear grayish to the camera on a bright sunny day. This phenomenon is common in CCTV, but there are a variety of solutions available.

It’s all about choosing the right camera for the lighting situation. Basically there are two types of night vision cameras, those with infrared IR LEDs and those which use shutter speed adjustment (we refer to this as “Polaris Vision”, more widely known as “sens-up” or “DSS”).  IR cameras use infrared light from the built-in LED’s to render an image at night.  Sens-up cameras give you the option to manually adjust the shutter speed. By slowing down the shutter speed, more light is allowed to accumulate on the image sensor, thus rendering a brighter image in low light conditions (for instance – a scene with ambient light from stars, moon, street lighting). Since sens-up cameras don’t utilize infrared light, a 100% IR filter is used to block all infrared light.  As a result there is no color alteration during day time.  If IR cameras were to use a 100% filter they would not be able to see in the dark so a “bandpass filter” or a mechanical IR cut filter (ICR) is used. A mechanical IR cut filter blocks 100% of infrared light during the daytime then moves away from the lens at night. A bandpass filter is a fixed stationary filter which lets certain wavelengths of light through and stops certain wavelengths from entering. The most common infrared filtering method is using a bandpass filter due to the fact that mechanical IR cut filters tend to add significant cost to the price of the camera, although ICR is the most effective method of avoiding color alteration.

What are the best night vision options?

  1. Indoor or Outdoor applications with ambient lighting at night and little to no fast moving objects- consider a sens-up camera without IR LEDs, such as DPD24D (indoor dome) or DPV24D (vandal dome).
  2. Indoor or Outdoor applications without ambient light at night – consider a camera with IR cut filter such as DPB14TLX or DPV24TLX.  For low budget situations the DBB23TL-PK4 is also an option.
  3. Outdoor applications with or without ambient light and/or indoors with fluorescent light – Consider cameras with IR LEDs, such as DCB34DL, DCB44DL,  DCB23DL and DPV24DL.

In summary, there are a variety of Night Vision options depending on the lighting situation.  There are other considerations to take into account apart from lighting which we’ll be detailing in an upcoming posting (reflectivity of the scene and presence of fast/slow moving objects are examples). Choosing the right Night Vision option is a matter of selecting the appropriate technology for the desired result.

IR Cut Filter

Smart Search DVR Quickly Catches the Cookie Thief

Sometimes I find the latest security features to be so powerful that it seems like science fiction to me. There are a number of DVR solutions available with the “Smart Search” feature in the market today, but it’s typically only found on sophisticated, pricey enterprise-level systems. Digimerge is able to offer this impressive technology within an affordable snack bracket that dealers can digest on our DH230 / DH250 Touch Series DVR models.

Smart Search allows you to search Motion Detection in a specific selected area of the picture, like the cookie jar on the counter. So if you’re wondering where the cookies are going but don’t have time to go through all of the motion recordings from the kitchen – then you can hone-in on that hotspot and nab the culprit within seconds. Just find a time when the cookie jar was full, highlight the target area, and search for activity in the specified space. You’ll end up with a much smaller selection of video segments to sift through than you would if you didn’t have Smart Search narrowing down the Motion Area criteria. Playback these recordings in full-screen to see the full-picture and identify the cookie monster (in my house it’s usually me).

OK, perhaps the missing cookie example isn’t the most compelling motivator to upgrade to our higher-end DVR’s. But what if that missing item on the counter was a valuable product in a store or a painting on a wall? The same concepts apply and Smart Search saves users a lot of time in finding the answer.

Another neat feature of Smart Search is the Preview Search – which shows you 12 thumbnail preview images of recordings within an hour timespan at 5 minute intervals. If you want to quickly identify when a change in the setting occurred, the preview images will quickly point you to the right video section. You’ll see a clear Before & After of when the milk was spilled on the floor, probably by the same guy who grabbed the cookies.

Digimerge Pricing in Response to Thailand Flooding

As most of you know, the recent flooding crisis in Thailand has resulted in a shortage of Hard Drives, given that approximately 45% of the world’s hard drives are made in Thailand.

The flooding has taken a significant human toll and forced many factories to close including those of Western Digital and Seagate, the world’s two largest hard drive manufacturers. The situation is not yet resolved, factories are severely damaged and workers cannot reach factories. Furthermore, once production lines reopen there will be higher priority given to catching up on higher volume consumer-level HDD production (for computers) versus niche enterprise products such as security grade HDD’s for DVR’s. Therefore, HDD shortages are expected to continue well into next year.

While it is not possible to predict just how long the problem will persist, what we do know is prices have increased dramatically and supply has been sporadic at best. We at Digimerge are very much committed to supporting our Distributors and Dealers, so to date we have not raised DVR prices or applied a surcharge.

That being said, the situation remains uncertain and we’re continuing to monitor HDD supply & pricing on a daily basis. We’ll continue to honor existing pricing for as long as we possibly can. In the event that we have no choice but to increase prices, we promise to be fair and forthright with all our customers.

The current situation is indeed challenging, but we are committed to working closely with our customers to manage our way through it successfully together.

CCTV Cameras are not Generic and Time is Money

Have you ever purchased the generic supermarket brand Cola instead of Coke or Pepsi? I haven’t, because I can’t trust the supply source. Who knows where it’s actually made and what kind of ingredients they use, or what level of quality control they have in place. Could they possibly be doing something better than the industry leaders? I can’t confirm, but I highly doubt it and I’d rather not take the risk.

Perplexingly, there seems to be a perception lately that all CCTV cameras are equal – provided that the resolution / lens specification is the same and the housing is similar. As a result, I’ve seen countless new suppliers appear overnight and successfully sell cameras purely based on their ability to undercut the established companies in the industry. Guess what? It never works out well for the Dealer!

I understand the temptation. The camera from XYZ looks the same as the offering of the premium brand (eg: Digimerge) and perhaps it even produces a similar picture quality when you first plug it in. But what you’re not seeing is what happens one week / one month later, when the no-name camera becomes defective and the supplier runs for the hills when you try to get service.

At Digimerge, we get it. We understand that when the camera fails, the Dealer has to return to the site and effectively loses money on that job. Even if the Dealer gets an exchange under warranty, the cost of the time involved in revisiting the site makes it a break-even job at best. That’s why we put together the Time is Money program. If one of our new Pinnacle cameras fails within one year, we’ll cover your service call with a free camera as compensation for your time (in addition to the over-the-counter replacement under warranty). If you haven’t done so already, please sign-up for this program at www.digimerge.com/tim and try out our new Pinnacle line. After all, there’s no risk since we’ve got your back in the highly unlikely event of failure.

Time is Money

Security Canada Expo – Strong Showing

Once again we got to flex our muscles at the Security Canada Expo, aka Canasa show (Toronto). I’ve been pumping the Digimerge line at this show for the past 9 years and, to be honest, it has not always been easy. This year I observed a major difference: our booth visitors were familiar with our products, believed in our message and were truly impressed… not so much by our personal rigorous fitness regime, but rather that Digimerge has really bulked up its product line and become a proven industry leader in CCTV. We’ve come a long way from humble beginnings and we’re no longer the underdog. Dealers are now confident that when they choose Digimerge, they’re getting a high-end yet user-friendly solution they can depend on, backed by best-in-class technical support and superior warranties. For these reasons, Digimerge now sells more DVR’s in Canada than… well, anyone!

Despite a down economy, no recessionary environment was apparent at this show. Attendance was at an all-time high, traffic was relentless, and people were enthusiastic. Our Dealers are doing well and we’re thrilled to be a part of their success. It was amazing to hear the overwhelmingly positive response to the expanded Touch DVR line, success stories with the mobile app’s, and great reviews on our CMS software.

Booth visitors saw a preview of our new IP offering (coming in early 2012) and the reaction to the IP Camera quality plus feature-set was phenomenal. Dealers and Integrators were equally excited to see our DH230 & DH250 Series DVR’s controlled via a Touch Screen monitor. This is a huge value-add… and it’s a simple free firmware upgrade now available on our website. That’s a perfect example of how Digimerge is continuing to build up muscle – by delivering the juice that empowers dealers to hit the long ball.

Digimerge booth at Security Canada Expo 2011

Digimerge DDNS – the migraine eliminator

Setting up remote connection to a DVR has been known to cause a few migraines. Sure, it sounds easy enough… just plug-and-play, right? Well, not quite. If you’re a novice in Networking like me, be prepared to experience the remote access realities of Port Forwarding, Static versus Dynamic IP, and my personal favorite – Router configuration! Once you’re up-and-running, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your worries are over. Connection can suddenly fail, leaving you wondering what went wrong?… Without proper resources (namely an IT-savvy geek on-hand), it’s enough to make your head spin.

Digimerge understands these remote access issues and we make it painlessly simple for the networking novice to achieve remote connection and then not have to worry about it. You could say we take the “work” out of networking. If your IP address is subject to change from time to time, you’re actually in luck because we offer a superior and free Dynamic DNS Service. Plus, we still provide the flexibility to go with a third party service if the integrator so desires.

Registration for our DDNS at http://ddns.digimerge.net takes just a couple of minutes. You complete a quick form, receive an email confirmation with some important info, enter that info into your Digimerge DVR – and you’re good to go! To deal with the complicated aspect of Port Forwarding, we offer a free exclusive tool called Auto Port Forwarding which automates the router port forwarding process thus enabling instant remote access by PC, Mac or smartphone.

Finally, it’s important to point out that Digimerge DDNS is supported by 4 redundant servers across North America, so our service never lets you or your customers down. Can’t say the same about our competitors who typically use a single server overseas (ie: somewhere in Asia). When a single server crashes in the Far East, it takes time for the server to come back up which typically creates a customer phone call to the dealer inquiring as to why they can’t see their cameras, which can lead to an unnecessary service call. Our Dealers can rest easy knowing that they won’t be getting calls at 3PM due to a problem stemming from a site where it’s 3AM.

Selling the Sizzle – Mobile App’s

Hey everyone, welcome to Wayne’s Word. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve been a road warrior in the security industry for over 20 years now.  In fact, I’ve probably racked up enough airmiles to rival George Clooney’s “Up in the Air” character! Truth is I’m passionate about this business and thrive on exceeding customers’ expectations.  I believe the personal touch is critically important, which is why I’m always out there visiting customers and learning what it takes to win.

Lately the industry has seen an influx of DVRs, from countless vendors – many look the same, apparently have most of the same features and, who knows, might even come from the same place.  It sometimes seems everything that can go in the DVR box is already in there.  So …. how to differentiate?

The APP’s are where it’s at.

When I go out to demo products I’m always travelling with my iPad and BlackBerry, showcasing the superior mobile app’s offered by Digimerge. Nothing is more powerful than showing a customer 16 HD channels of live video, changing views at the swipe of a finger or zooming in via PTZ with a tap of the screen.  Add our Pro App features including Search and Playback of stored video – and the customer’s jaw practically drops each time. Clearly mobile App’s are playing a major role in the expansion of CCTV into the mainstream. Now everyone can watch their home or business right on their phone or tablet. These cool features make security a more appealing sell for dealers.

Digimerge is at the forefront of mobile App technology.  No-one can touch the Touch DVR suite of smooth and fast running App’s.  Compatible with basically everything (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, iPad, Mac, PC, Android tablet, etc) these mobile apps give our Dealers the edge when it comes to selling both the substance and the sizzle.